Based on real-life events that took place in Busan, 1978. Song Woo Seok got tired of working as a regional judge and decides to work as a lawyer, specializing in real estate and taxation. Fast forward to 1981, Woo Seok took his high-school friends at a small restaurant he frequents to and drunkenly brags about his accomplishments then discriminates other lawyers and student protesters. Things led to a fight as he gets conceited and argues with a friend regarding the protests. During a group study, Park Jin Woo with some of his book club members were captured, wrongfully accused of being a North Korea sympathizer, with suspicions of holding illegal meetings while possessing banned literature. With the restaurant closed and hearing that Jin Woo went missing, Woo Seok gets anxious, investigates, and finds Jin Woo imprisoned under false charges. Upon seeing the state Jin Woo was in, Woo Seok became determined to make a change within his nation, leaving his comfort zone to protect the oppressed. He starts by defending the students and fights for human rights.
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Cast & Credits
This film is one of 2013’s most critically acclaimed films domestically and that doesn’t surprise me a bit. You see, The Attorney is based on the real-life story of the ex-president Roh Moo Hyun’s early years, when he used to be an attorney and human rights activist. It also takes a controversial case from 1981 as its main focus. This film is neither a legal thriller nor a courtroom drama. It doesn’t focus on a desperate attorney trying to win a case or someone trying to prove his innocence; it’s more like a serious depiction of the social and political status in South Korea back in the days. Something low-keyed but contains greater value.
The emotions and reactions throughout the film were quite penetrating. You’ve got to give director Yang Woo Seok credit for what he did with the storytelling, he didn’t only direct this film but he also wrote it himself creating a respectable piece. He didn’t use anything that’s high-profiled because basic elements and some emotions-play were more than enough to deliver great developments and captivating events.
Without doubt, no one can deny Song Kang Ho’s astonishing acting skills, he’s able to grab any character and make you feel it throughout. It was impressive how he delivered Song’s character, every emotion and every facial expression were too involving. It’s not for naught that Kang Ho ahjussi is one of the fewest critically acclaimed actors in and outside South Korea. The rest of the cast delivered so well, the director knew how to pick his actors because a little exaggerated acting would’ve blown everything into thin air but gladly, none of that happened here.
Considering the fact that this film was set in the late 70’s and the beginning of the 80’s, the cinematography felt fitting but not more than the music, it had an important part to make you connect to the characters and events.
Watch this if:
-You like films that are based on true-life events and characters.
-You like to watch an interesting film about politics in South Korea 30 years ago.
-You like Song Kang Ho; this is one of his better performances.
Do not watch if:
-You’re not into romance-free films with somewhat slow development.
-You’re looking for something light or thriller-like.
The Attorney is an interesting film that concentrates on political and social issues in South Korea back in the 80’s. It’s absolutely a success for the newbie director Yang Woo Seok and a wonderful introduction to follow his work in the future.
Song Kang-ho brings 110% to every role he plays. I thoroughly enjoyed his performance, as always. He put in a convincing performance for a character who starts off in the story as a slimy and money-faced lawyer, but grows and evolves to become a man and a lawyer of conviction who is utterly convicted of his beliefs, and who you would be proud to support. Kim Young-ae puts in such a moving performance as Jin-woo's kind-hearted and wise mother. Im Shi-wan is really good as a fresh-faced but principled young man.
This movie was a hit in Korea, understandably so. It addresses a pretty recent part of Korean history, it appropriately brings you through the emotional highs and lows, is based on a true story, and has a fantastic cast. Highly recommended.